Friday, October 19, 2007

The Dimension of Stillness: Part II, chapter 12 from The Edge of the World (a novel in progress)

None of the women at the company would fuck me. It seemed that somewhere along the line I'd lost the ablity to seduce budding young business women. Even the receptionist was immune to my charms. I'd often notice her casting a furtive glance at me, but it was never an admiring look she gave me. On the contrary, it was always one of suspicion and fear, as if I might suddenly pounce upon her, dragging her off into a corner so I could have my way with her. Though I must say that that was exactly the sort of thing I had in mind whenever I cast a glance at her. With her meaty Brooklyn girl's ass, she would have been good to take from behind, pumping into her while her pendulous breasts swing like church bells beneath her.

Unfortunately I never got the chance, and after a time I found myself chasing after some of the women in Bino's crowd. It wasn't something I wanted to do at first—I'd spent enough time talking about literature with Lily when I was trying to take her away from Leonard. But since all the women in Bino's crowd were either poets or writers of some sort, it was something I'd have to do again.

I first went after Paula, a cute brunette who worked at the bookstore with Ron.

"Oh... you're the dog man," she said to me when I'd gone to see Bino and his gang at another reading. "I didn't recognize you without your dog."

The reading was in the upstairs room of the Cedar Tavern in the Village and she was standing at the bar, watching the proceedings.

"Well, yeah," I said. "But they wouldn't let me in here with a dog, so I had to leave him at home today."

"I'm a cat person myself."

"So, you have a cat?"

"No," she answered, shaking her head.

I waited a moment for her to explain, but "no" was all she cared to say about it or anything else.

I turned to Richie, the bartender. "A Jack on the rocks," I said, ordering what was to be the first of seven hours worth of drinks. Soon I was sloppy drunk and yelling at whoever was reading, even Bino.

"Read something good for a change," I shouted at him.

"Eat my fuck," he replied. He was never very good with the comebacks.

"Lemmy, maybe you better switch to coffee," Ritchie advised me.

"Shit, man, I'm just trying to have a good time. Work with me here."

I moved over to one of the tables and sat down next to a dark haired woman with bloodshot eyes and huge breasts. Although her face was kind of ugly, I thought I'd give her a try.

"Hey, you know that poem you just read?" I asked.

"Yes," she said, straightening up in her seat so that her breasts stood out and pointed straight out the door and towards my car.

"Well, you know, I heard it and I listened very closely the whole time. And when you were done I must say that I was really moved. Next to your poem, everything else just seems like so much self-indulgent wank."

"Well thanks," she said, looking me in the eyes and smiling."

"So, hey," I continued. "Would you like to come to my place and fuck?"

Before I knew what had happened she had thrown her drink—a scotch and water from what I could tell—in my face as I waited for a "yes" to come from her lips. Letting out a loud grunt, she stood and moved to another table. It was clear that she'd been having a bad night.

I wiped my cheek then went to the downstairs bar. When the reading was over Bino came down, accompanied by Paula. Instead of joining me at the bar, Bino and Paula went directly to a table towards the back of the room without saying a single word to me.

I sat there on my stool for a while, grinning at them as I hummed some old song that had popped into my head. When it was clear they weren't going to look towards me I turned away and stared at my drink, resting my elbow on the bar.

With my eyes open, and the sounds of conversation and the clanking of glasses and bottles all around me, I began to dream. Although I was completely awake, I knew it was a dream and not a waking idea or a product of my conscious imagination. And what I saw in my dream was a world where I was the only human left alive, the only survivor of a species which, after my death, would be extinct.

Aside from myself, and the plants and trees, the only living things in the world were dogs. They were crowding the streets, with hordes of them running down Broadway past Twenty-Third St. in a cityscape that was bereft of both people and cars. It was a noisy scene, but rather than car engines and horns, screeching brakes and squealing tires, the only sounds were those the dogs made. Barking, growling, and howling at the buildings and at the sky, they continued to move down Broadway, past Union Square, past Houston, past Canal street, until they reached the southern tip of Manhattan at Battery Park, where like people gathered around a backyard swimming pool, they jumped into the water. But once in the water, rather than swimming, they sank, sending feeble ripples toward the bank as they drowned there where the East and Hudson Rivers met.

I watched until all the dogs had jumped. Until the air was still and quiet and the ripples in the water had disappeared. Later in the dream I was back on Staten Island, standing underneath the Verrazano Bridge as I watched their bodies floating by. Dalmatians, Greyhounds, Poodles, Collies, Beagles and other breeds of dog, their bodies all bloated, drifted slowly down the Narrows into the Lower Bay. I stood there exhausted, feeling as if I were witnessing the aftermath of a massacre, because although they had jumped into the water on their own, I was sure that something had driven them to this. What it was I had no idea.

By the time I came out of my dream it was three in the morning and I had run up a bar tab I couldn't pay. Bino and Paula were long gone and only two other people were left at the bar. I put down thirty bucks and told Ritchie, who was now downstairs counting the receipts, that I'd pay him the rest, fifty dollars, later in the week. I never went back.
First posted, out of sequence, in May 2006.